New CPFL wind, but still no grid link

Brazilian renewable energy company CPFL Renováveis expects to start-up the 78.2MW Macacos I wind power complex by the second week of April – but that will have little effect on its operating capacity since it will still lack a grid connection, said the company's finance chief Marcelo Souza.

Macacos I is made up of four wind farms (Macacos, Pedra Preta, Jurema and Costa Branca) totalling 34 turbines of 2.3MW.

However, because it is located in the municipality of João Câmara (state of Rio Grande do Norte), it will not start operations, awaiting the completion of the João Câmara III substation by federal power company Chesf, which is scheduled for January 2015.

The first of the four plants, the 20.7MW Pedra Preta, has already received a full operating license from the Rio Grande do Norte environmental agency, Idema, and awaits authorisation from power regulator Aneel to start commercial operations.

“Most of the 34 turbines are already in place,” said Souza during a webcast with analysts to discuss its latest results.

Macacos I should bring the company's wind power installed capacity to 675.5MW, although only 567.5MW will be operating, including the 120MW Atlântica complex in southern Brazil. That started full operations on March 22 after the last of its four plants came online.

In early March, the 188MW Santa Clara complex started tests after the first substation in João Câmara was concluded.

The Macacos complex will stand still beside the 30MW Campos dos Ventos II located in Rio Grande do Norte – which also doesn't have a grid connection. Until the links are ready the government will guarantee payment of revenue, an arrangement foreseen under the contract between the parties.

Nevertheless, the conclusion of the complexes will come as a relief to CPFL, since it allows the company to reduce expenses from the acquisition of power in the short-term market because of other delays not related to grid infrastructure.

Such power purchases reduced CPFL's Ebitda in 2013 by R$174m, including for delayed or drought-hit small-scale hydro plants.

Macacos I and Atlântica sold power in Brazil’s 2010 auction round and should have been ready to operate in 2013, but problems in the supply of towers delayed the conclusion of both projects.

“We are taking measures to minimize the problem with the supply of the towers,” said Souza.

Later in 2014, CPFL Renováveis should increase its portfolio by a further 205.2MW when it incorporates the wind power generation assets of DESA, whose acquisition was announced earlier this year.

CPFL Renováveis starts 2014 with R$890m in cash, part of which should be invested in the 305MW of wind projects under construction.

By 2016, the company should conclude the 82MW Campos do Ventos I, III and IV and 172MW São Benedito wind complex, both of which will sell power in the non-regulated market.

By 2018 it has to start operating the 51.3MW Pedra Cheirosa wind power complex, which was commissioned at the A-5 auction in 2013.

Another 412.7MW from DESA's wind power portfolio are being built and should be completed through 2018. Souza didn't say whether the company plans to carry out new acquistions this year.